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Good Samaritan hospital nurses celebrating with cake
Good Samaritan Hospital's cardiology team members celebrate the hospital's first MitraClip™ lifesaving procedure.

John Driscoll was experiencing extreme fatigue that was interfering with his daily life. “It was very difficult for me to even walk from my house to my car,” the 85-year-old said. Determined to find out the cause of these symptoms, he went to the St. Francis Heart Center at Good Samaritan Hospital in West Islip, NY, where he underwent testing. The results of these tests indicated he was experiencing mitral regurgitation, a condition in which the heart's mitral valve doesn't close tightly, allowing blood to flow backward in the heart. This overworks the heart and leads to symptoms such as fatigue and shortness of breath during even light exertion. 

Previously, the solution to such an issue would require open heart surgery to repair the leaky mitral valve. In recent years, the MitraClip™ procedure has emerged as a non-invasive alternative which can frequently see a patient back on their feet and home just a day or two after having the operation. Using a catheter to enter a vein in the patient’s groin, advanced imaging then allows the catheter to be guided to the heart. There, a clip is deployed which helps the mitral valve shut itself more firmly. 

Good Samaritan Hospital’s Chief of Interventional Cardiology David Reich, MD, notes one of the unique challenges of the procedure. “No two valves are the same, they are unique to people in almost the same way a fingerprint is,” he says. “And when a mitral valve has dysfunction, the nature of this dysfunction is unique and requires repair in a way that is specific to it.” 

Good Samaritan Hospital's interventional cardiologist Michael Happes, MD, confirms the importance of planning and preparation to ensure the success of the procedure, including the use of advanced diagnostic techniques such as transesophageal echocardiograms, which allow the assessment of heart function and pathology. “The guidance of a skilled echocardiographer is essential to the successful completion of the MitraClip™ procedure,” he says.

In John’s case, he highlights the contributions of Xiaoli Ren, MD. He is also grateful the MitraClip™ procedure is now being performed so close to his East Islip home. “Previously, patients who were candidates for this procedure might have had to travel quite far from home, which can pose numerous challenges. The St. Francis Heart Center allows us to bring the highest level of cardiac care to patients and their families at Good Samaritan and across the south shore of Long Island,”  says Dr. Happes. 

John’s  procedure was completed successfully and he returned home the next day, only needing to stay at the hospital for one night. He reports that his daily activities  are now much easier for him, including walking up and down the stairs into his basement, which had previously been very difficult.

“I didn’t know much about the procedure before my doctors recommended it,” said John. “But I’m glad I trusted my heart to the St. Francis Heart Center.”  

Learn more about St. Francis Heart Center services.

​​Call (866) MY-LI-DOC (866-695-4362) to find a Catholic Health physician near you.

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